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Bob Lanier, NBA force who left big shoes to fill, dies at 73 | Sports

Bob Lanier, the left-handed giant guy who muscled up beside the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as one of the most NBA’s best gamers of the Nineteen Seventies, has died. He used to be 73.

The NBA mentioned Lanier died Tuesday after a brief sickness. The Hall of Famer had labored for the league as a world ambassador. The Athletic reported in 2019 that Lanier used to be being handled for bladder most cancers.

Lanier performed 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks and averaged 20.1 issues and 10.1 rebounds for his profession. He is 3rd at the Pistons’ profession listing in each issues and rebounds. Detroit drafted Lanier with the No. 1 general select in 1970 after he led St. Bonaventure to the Final Four.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver mentioned Lanier used to be a few of the maximum proficient facilities in league historical past, and added that his accomplishments went some distance past what he did at the court docket.

“For more than 30 years, Bob served as our global ambassador and as a special assistant to David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the game’s values and make a positive impact on young people everywhere,” Silver mentioned in a commentary. “It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around.”

At 6-foot-10 and 250 kilos, Lanier used to be regarded as a large guy all through his time and used that bulk to his benefit.

“Bob Lanier will always be one of the big men of basketball,” Abdul-Jabbar mentioned in a commentary posted on social media. “Not just because of the size of his body but because of the size of his heart.”

Lanier went into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. But his boat-size sneakers were given there forward of him, with a show of his bronzed shoes within the shrine.

He used to be recognized for dressed in length 22 sneakers, even if that used to be disputed in 1989 via a Converse consultant, who informed The Atlanta Constitution that Lanier wore length 18 1/2.

“The 22 he was reputed to wear was a Korean size,” shoe rep Gary Stoken mentioned.

Not contested used to be the abundantly transparent proven fact that his toes had been giant.

“A lot of people can put both feet into one of my shoes,” Lanier informed HOOP mag.

Born Sept. 10, 1948, in Buffalo, New York, Lanier starred in faculty at St. Bonaventure, the place he averaged 27.6 issues and 15.7 rebounds in 3 seasons. The Bonnies made it the entire strategy to the Final Four in 1970, however Lanier had injured his knee within the regional ultimate, and St. Bonaventure misplaced within the nationwide semifinals to Jacksonville.

Lanier overcame a litany of orthopedic accidents, coping with shoulder, again, elbow, hand and toe issues all through his profession. But that didn’t save you him from incomes his position a few of the best NBA facilities of his generation. After being named to the all-rookie staff in 1971, he averaged a minimum of 21 issues and 11 rebounds for every of the following seven seasons. Lanier used to be an eight-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game.

He stays the Pistons’ franchise chief in scoring moderate at 22.7 issues in line with recreation, loved in Detroit for each his fierceness and friendliness.

“As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community,” the Pistons mentioned. “As an ambassador for both the Pistons organization and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise and our fans with great passion and integrity. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Bob’s family and friends.”

Lanier could beat opponents from the inside and the outside while ruling the boards. Although Abdul-Jabbar had a more famous hook shot, the sky hook, Lanier’s was very much a weapon.

“Guys didn’t change teams as much, so when you were facing the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries,” Lanier told NBA.com in 2018. “Lanier against Jabbar! Jabbar against Willis Reed! And then (Wilt) Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Bill Walton! You had all these great big men and the game was played from inside out.”

As exceptional as Lanier was, the Pistons won only one playoff series with him. He played 64 games or fewer in each of his last four full seasons with Detroit. In February 1980, he was traded to Milwaukee.

Lanier averaged fewer minutes with the Bucks, but he was part of Milwaukee teams that reached the Eastern Conference finals in 1983 and 1984, the final two seasons of his career.

“Even more than his basketball success, which included his being an All-Star in 1982, Bob was one of the most popular players with Bucks fans and known throughout the community for his generosity and kindness,” the Bucks said in a statement.

He also served as president of the players’ union during the final years of his career, with Silver saying that he played “a key role in the negotiation of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement.”

Lanier was Detroit’s career leader in points and rebounds before he was passed by Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer in those categories, and his single-game franchise record of 33 rebounds was topped by Dennis Rodman.

“All of us who love the game of basketball are hurting with the loss of Bob Lanier,” Thomas mentioned. “He used to be one of the most largest facilities to play the sport and one of the most hardest and fiercest competition.

“Just as he impacted the sport at the court docket, Bob used to be one of the most recreation’s largest ambassadors. His elegance and taking good care of others set a really perfect instance for such a lot of to apply.”

In 1995, Lanier was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, then took over as coach on an interim basis after Don Nelson resigned. Lanier went 12-25, and the Warriors found another coach after the season.

Lanier won the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for the 1977-78 season for outstanding community service. Following his playing career, he helped start the NBA’s Stay in School campaign and participated in other outreach for the league.

“There’s so much need out here,” Lanier said. “When you’re traveling around to different cities and different countries, you see there are so many people in dire straits that the NBA can only do so much. We make a vast, vast difference, but there’s always so much more to do.”

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